The Supreme Court of Western Australia is set to rule on a landmark case that involves a 15-year-old transgender child, who was removed from the care of their parents. The parents had refused to support cross-sex hormone treatment for their trans child.

Warning: This story talks about suicide and might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Western Australia’s chief justice Peter Quinlan is scheduled to hear the appeal filed by the parents, after the Children’s court removed the child from their custody on grounds of emotional abuse in 2019.

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The child was taken into state care in 2019, when they were about to turn 16, after a reported plan to commit suicide. The child will turn 18 later this year and would be free to begin testosterone.

‘Emotional Abuse’ By Parents

The father, who continuously misgendered the child, told The Australian that they “were found unjustly guilty of future potential mental health abuse,” if the government let the child go back into their care.

Lawyers representing the parents claimed that they were expressing natural caution towards gender affirming medical treatments and were still open to exploring “less invasive” psychological treatments. The parents said that the appeal was important in undoing the abuse and neglect findings against them, and to “protect other parents from a similar misuse of state power.”

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Senior counsel Carolyn Thatcher, who represented Western Australia’s Department of Communities argued that the magistrate was entitled to make a finding of emotional abuse because the parents had denied the child’s “stated feelings about his gender identity” and “failed to accept the gender dysphoria diagnosis.”

Thatcher’s argument was further supported by evidence from a psychiatrist who had told the court that the child would be at significance risk of suicide, if they were to be returned to the care of the parents who had failed to properly support their gender identity.

The Best Interests Of the Child

“The overwhelming benefits of being one’s authentic gender at any age are well noted, including hormonal treatments if needed. So-called risks are hugely if not completely exaggerated,” Sally Goldner AM, Transgender Victoria media representative told Star Observer

“I hope any court considers the best interests of the child and makes a decision based on factual information rather than the usually emotive misinformation and bias faced by trans and gender diverse and/or young people.”

According to activists, the WA case is the first in Australia that relates to a minor being removed from their parents’  custody over failure to support a child’s gender transition and will set a precedent for future cases.

Last month, Star Observer, had spoken with legal experts and trans rights advocates about how the 2020 UK Tavistock court case may impact similar cases in Australia. In the Tavistock case, the High Court had ruled that that children under the age of 16 were unable to give informed consent to treatment such as puberty blockers.

Earlier this month, a Court of Appeal overturned that ruling, meaning UK doctors could once again prescribe puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to young trans teens. The appeals court bench of lord chief justice, Lord Burnett, Sir Geoffrey Vos and Lady Justice King had said it had been “inappropriate” for the high court to issue the guidance.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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